stefon diggs

How Torrey Smith is trying to help the Eagles get Stefon Diggs

How Torrey Smith is trying to help the Eagles get Stefon Diggs

Torrey Smith helped the Eagles win one Super Bowl, and it looks like he’s trying to help them win another one.

Smith, who caught 20 passes for 157 yards and a TD for the Eagles during the 2017 postseason, was on social media Monday trying to recruit disgruntled Vikings Stefon Diggs — who both played at Maryland — to his former team.

The 26-year-old Diggs, who has 165 catches, 2,251 yards and 15 TD catches the last two years with the Vikings, has made it clear he’s not happy in Minnesota, and tweeted out Monday afternoon, “It’s time for a new beginning.”

Diggs isn't a free agent, but if he continues expressing his displeasure with the organization, maybe the Vikings would be open to trading him.

Smith, who retired after last season, had an idea!

Smith and Diggs both played at Maryland and although they didn’t overlap, they’ve been close for some time.

In a 2015 story on website Baltimore Fishbowl, Diggs is quoted as saying he spoke frequently with Smith after he declared for the draft following his junior year.

“Torrey Smith, as anybody knows, he’s a great person,” Diggs said. “Along the process, I gave him a lot of phone calls, text messages to see where I should be training, what I should be doing as far as just the whole process. He gave me a lot of guidance and a lot of advice. I really appreciate that. I try to pick his brain as much as I can to get all the information I can for the next level, because I’m trying to be a sponge.”

Smith was in College Park from 2008 through 2010 before getting drafted in the second round in 2011 by the Ravens. Diggs spent 2012 through 2014 at Maryland before getting drafted in the fifth round in 2015 by the Vikings.

Smith spent four years with the Ravens and two with the 49ers before his one season with the Eagles. He retired after catching six passes with the Panthers in 2018.

Diggs has been dropping hints that he’s unhappy in Minnesota for a while now.

“I feel like there’s truth to all rumors, no matter how you dress it up,” he told reporters covering the Vikings in October. I can’t sit up here and act like everything is OK. It’s obviously not.”

The Eagles are desperate for wide receivers. They have only 33-year-old DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and — for now — 30-year-old Alshon Jeffery under contract.

Diggs signed a six-year contract extension just 20 months ago that runs through 2023 with base salaries ranging from $10.9 million in 2020 to $11.4 million in 2023.

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NFL trade rumors: Why Stefon Diggs makes sense for the Eagles

NFL trade rumors: Why Stefon Diggs makes sense for the Eagles

On Tuesday night, receiver Stefon Diggs sent the internet into a tizzy when he apparently erased any mention of the Vikings from his Instagram account. 

We’re taking a bit of a leap here (gotta love 2020) but if this is Diggs’ somehow voicing his frustration with the Vikings it wouldn’t be the first time. And it would also basically be a Bat Signal to the other 31 NFL teams: “Come and get me!” 

The Eagles should. 

It’s funny. Before all those rumors began to swirl on Tuesday night, I was on NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Quick Slants and was asked for one potential trade target for the Birds. The name I gave was Diggs. He made sense even before this. While there’s no guarantee the Vikings trade him, it’s worth finding out. 

If you haven’t noticed, the Eagles are in desperate need of help at receiver. It’s why about 85 percent of mock drafts have them taking one in the first round of the draft in a couple months. But any player they pick in the draft is an unknown. Diggs is not. 

There are three big reasons why Diggs should be attractive to the Eagles: 

1. He just turned 26 back in November

The Eagles are committed to getting younger this offseason and getting Diggs now would kind of be like signing a free agent after his rookie deal. The Eagles have been getting older but Diggs would help them get younger. No, he’s not a 21-year-old anymore but he is arguably entering his prime. 

2. Diggs is already one of the best receivers in the NFL

Despite his targets dropping from 149 in 2018 to 94 in 2019 (ostensibly one of the reasons for his displeasure), Diggs still managed to have more receiving yards this past season. Since the 2016 season, Diggs has 313 catches, 3,903 yards and 26 touchdowns. There are just six players in the league with better stats in those four seasons: DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Travis Kelce and Michael Thomas. 

What has been impressive about Diggs is that he’s been successful in different ways. After averaging 10.0 yards per catch in 2018, he averaged 17.9 (a career high) in 2019 and was a tremendous deep threat. Just three players in the NFL had a higher yards-per-catch average in 2019. 

The Eagles certainly saw what he can do. In Week 6 against the Birds, he had his best game of the 2019 season. He caught seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns. That was the only time this season he was targeted over 10 times in a game. 

3. Diggs is relatively cost-controlled for another four seasons

While trading for Diggs will cost draft equity (we’ll get to that soon), his salary will be cheaper than that of a free agent of the same caliber because he’s already locked up. While multiple teams will out-bid each other for free agents and end up over-paying, Diggs has a contract that runs through the 2023 season and it’s a very reasonable contract. By the end of it, there’s a very good chance he’ll be extremely underpaid. Even though he just signed the five-year extension in the summer of 2018, he’s already just the 13th highest-paid NFL receiver in terms of APY, according to OverTheCap. 

Check out his base salaries for the remainder of the contract: 

2020: $10.9M
2021: $11.4M
2022: $11.4M
2023: $11.4M

No, that’s not exactly cheap like a rookie contract would be but it’s very manageable. And once the new CBA is eventually worked out, those prices will probably look even better. And there are some performance escalators written in, but if Diggs hits them, both sides would be happy. 

So what will it take? 

This is the big question. I think we all agree that Diggs is a good player and the Eagles would love to have him. But what would they have to give up in a trade? 

Well, the Vikings are going to start any negotiation with a first-round pick at minimum. They should. All those reasons I listed above are reasons why they should have teams lining up for Diggs. It’ll be interesting to see just how bad things really are between Diggs and the Vikings, though. There was definitely frustration during the 2019 season but he finished out the year. Is it bad enough that it’s an untenable situation? If so, then the Vikings would lose some leverage. 

If it’s a second-round pick, this is an easier conversation. The real question is whether or not the Eagles would be willing to give up a first-round pick. I kind of doubt they’d be willing to but you can make a real case for it. It’s easy to say the Eagles should just focus on the draft and take one of the many talented options with the 21st pick but there’s no guarantee they’ll hit. In fact, their history picking receivers, especially in the last decade, shouldn’t instill much confidence. They have drafted four Day 1 or Day 2 receivers since 2010: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. 

None of them ever became what Diggs is right now. And there’s a good chance any player taken at 21 won’t become what he is either. 

Maybe GM Howie Roseman and the Eagles will be worried about Diggs’ fit in the building; after all, he has created enough drama in Minnesota to bring all of this up in the first place. Would that eventually happen here? Hard to say. This isn’t a no-brainer but it’s worth a call or two. 

Pick up the phone, Howie. 

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Roob’s observations after Eagles get off to brutal start, fall to Vikings

Roob’s observations after Eagles get off to brutal start, fall to Vikings

BOX SCORE 

MINNEAPOLIS — Another awful start. More terrible cornerback play. A baffling fake field goal.

Today’s edition of Roob’s 10 instant Eagles observations isn’t for the faint of heart.

Because this was ugly.

On the field where the franchise enjoyed its greatest triumph ever, the Eagles sputtered through one of their most disappointing defeats of the Doug Pederson Era.

Kirk Cousins threw four touchdowns, Stefon Diggs torched the Eagles’ beleaguered corners for 167 yards and three TDs and the Vikings embarrassed the Eagles, 38-20, Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

So much for Game 1 of the season-defining three-game road trip.

1. Terrible start, furious comeback. Same old story. How many times have we seen this same agonizing scenario repeat itself? This Eagles team so far has shown zero ability to play 60 consistent minutes. Down 10-0 vs. the Redskins. Down 17-6 to the Falcons. Down 20-10 to the Lions. Down 10-0 to the Packers. Down 10-0 and 24-3 Sunday. They inevitably fight back. They inevitably make it interesting. There’s the inevitable dramatic rally. But you just aren’t going to win consistently digging a big hole for yourself and then trying to fight out of it. Until Pederson figures out why this keeps happening, this team isn’t going anywhere.

2. One play really illustrates just how grave the Eagles’ cornerback issues are right now. The Vikings had a 1st-and-10 just outside midfield, Cousins dropped back, had great protection and a difficult choice to make. Throw to a wide-open Diggs streaking toward the end zone on the left side of the field with Rasul Douglas trailing the play or throw to an even-wider-open Olabisi Johnson running down the right side of the field after separating from Sidney Jones. When you’re in position to throw a 51-yard TD to TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE AT THE SAME TIME … that’s catastrophic. That’s the way the whole game went. The Eagles’ corners were simply overmatched start to finish. I don’t know what the answer is. Is Jalen Mills going to come in next week and turn this around after not playing for a year? You have to put him in there. You have no choice. But the trade deadline is out there in a couple weeks, and if the Eagles really believe they’re a playoff team, they have to go get somebody. Because that was embarrassing.

3. I’ve sensed this before and written it, but I don’t think Pederson has been aggressive enough early in games, and it gets the Eagles into a passive mindset. The first drive Sunday was three runs and a punt, including a 2nd-and-5 handoff to Miles Sanders that went for two yards. Come on, 2nd-and-5? Throw the thing. By the time the Eagles’ best player threw his first pass, the Vikings were up 10-0 and the Eagles were already in scramble mode. I’m all for mixing in the run, but Pederson isn’t starting games with an aggressive mentality and it sure feels like that’s one of the reasons they’re falling behind early virtually every week.

4. I guess we can now say that the best and worst play calls of Pederson's career came in the same stadium. I’m not sure what the point of that fake field goal was. The only way the fake beats a sure three points is if Jake Elliott throws a 21-yard TD pass, and that wasn’t happening. Even if he completed the pass to Dallas Goedert, you have no timeouts and the clock is running with about 13 or 14 seconds left, and Carson Wentz isn’t even on the field to spike the ball. So you’re going to have your kicker try to spike the ball so you have enough time to kick a field goal? Which you could have just kicked in the first place? Made no sense. 

5. You could see his frustration a few times, and that’s rare because Wentz is so even-keeled. But it’s also understandable. He’s out there with shaky pass protection, not much of a running game and the usual assortment of drops by his receivers — four of them Sunday, including one by Mack Hollins in the end zone. He threw an interception in the final minutes but really did all he could to keep the Eagles in the game as long as possible. He Finished 26 for 40 for 306 yards with two TDs and the INT. I’m not sure what else he could have done.  

6. The progress Miles Sanders has made from the start of training camp really is incredible. With a 32-yard TD and a 45-yarder down to the four-yard-line to set up another TD, Sanders now has five catches of at least 30 yards in the last four games. All Eagles WRs during the same span of no catches of 30 yards. This is a kid who had two career games at Penn State with 30 yards. He’s got soft hands, he’s a matchup nightmare, he finds space in traffic after the catch, and you can see how much trust Wentz has in him. It’s terrific that he’s come so far, but when your No. 1 deep threat is a rookie running back who never caught the ball before … you’re in trouble.

7. I expected more from the Eagles’ defensive line Sunday. That was a real makeshift offensive line the Vikings had Sunday, and then they lost left tackle Riley Reiff early. Still, the Eagles really weren’t able to control the line of scrimmage. They only got to Cousins once and really didn’t generate much pressure. I didn’t expect 10 sacks like last week, but I expected them to compete at a higher level than this.

8. The Vikings' receivers catch the ball. It’s a simple concept, but they make easy catches, they make tough catches, they make impossible catches. Diggs is a former fourth-round pick, and Adam Thielen was undrafted. They make plays that make their quarterback look good. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor both had decent games Sunday, but we’re just not seeing that next-level play from the Eagles’ wide outs, and we haven’t since opening day.

9. Darren Sproles is hurt again. DeSean Jackson's been out a month. Jason Peters is now dealing with another injury — we don’t know how serious. We talked about this all preseason. The Eagles brought the third-oldest roster into the season, and it’s just a reality that older guys get hurt more than younger guys. That’s a big part of where the Eagles are right now. 

10. Remember a few days ago when Zach Brown called Cousins the weak link on the Vikings’ offense? That was four TD passes ago.

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